My Pride Anthems: Jaida Essence Hall

The Drag Race winner shares why George Michael is a queer icon to her, and how she feels that meeting RuPaul was her destiny.
HuffPost UK

The coronavirus pandemic has changed everything, and that includes how we’re all celebrating Pride in 2020.

With huge public gatherings out of the question, we’re asking a range of LGBTQ celebrities and allies for their personal Pride anthems, to help us all get into the Pride spirit from lockdown.

It seems fitting that as our My Pride Anthems series comes to an end, we look to the future of the LGBTQ community, by hearing from the newly-crowned winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Jaida Essence Hall.

Jaida Essence Hall
Jaida Essence Hall
Jaida Essence Hall

As she talks us through her song choices, Jaida reveals why meeting RuPaul truly was destiny, after the drag legend formed an important part of her childhood, and why George Michael is one of her biggest icons...

Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out

“This is a Pride anthem that so many people know and love so much. And it connects with everybody, especially if they have a coming out story.

“For me, the song doesn’t necessarily represent coming out of the closet, because I don’t know if I have a coming out story, I think I one day just said to my parents ‘this is my boyfriend’, and that was that. So to me, it’s not just about coming out in that way, but coming out of your shell, coming out as whoever you are, not having to be ashamed of who you are, ashamed of who you love, or any of that stuff.

“It’s just about being completely free, making a declaration and saying ‘I’ve decided that I’m going to accept myself for who I am, and love myself always’.

Kesha – Die Young

“When I go to Pride, I love to dance and have a really good time, and this is one of my favourite songs to perform. I used to listen to this song all the time, and when I would hear it, it would just make me feel empowered.

“It’s one of those songs where the vibe and the energy is so strong, and when Kesha is singing the words, it’s almost like a declaration. Like, when I auditioned for the show, it was so weird, one thing I said in my video was ‘if you pick me I’m going to win’. And it wasn’t even a cocky thing, it was just that ‘I know I’m going to work as hard as I can to win’, and that’s like when I hear Die Young. The way she sings the lyrics to that song is so confident and sure, and it just makes me feel confident.

“And the song is a lot about seizing the moment, too. Almost like, we need to have a great time, we need to enjoy ourselves and enjoy what we have going on right now, because literally, we could die tomorrow. So what we got right now, just enjoy it and live it up.”

Aretha Franklin – A Deeper Love

“This is just a song about falling in love with who you are as a person, which I love a lot. It’s one of my personal favourite Pride anthems. And I love Aretha Franklin.”

Lady Gaga – Born This Way

“This is a really, really good Pride anthem. I’m one of those people that when I first hear a song I immediately just want to know the thought process that went into creating it, and the behind-the-scenes story, and everything like that. But when you hear Born This Way, you don’t really have to think about that, because the message of the song is so direct and in your face.

“The minute you hear it, you know exactly what Gaga is talking about and what the message of the song is supposed to be. It’s beautiful.”

RuPaul – Supermodel (You Better Work)

“It’s so weird to think about it now – how revolutionary this was when we were little – but I know for a fact that when I was young, this was one of the first songs I ever heard by a person that I knew was queer. And I didn’t even really know much about queerness, but that song was so major that people in neighbourhoods that would never normally listen to that kind of music or probably wouldn’t even associate with queer people, you would hear the song. It broke through any kind of barrier that tried to hold it back or anything like that.

“When I listen to it now, I still think about how important the song is, but also at the same time, this is a song that gives me life. And it’s so weird that the first queer artist that I heard and noticed growing up, years later, to compete on his show and then win… everything happens for a reason, and the stars had to align.”

George Michael – Freedom ’90

“Again, this song is about liberation and everybody being free to be who they are. The word is right there, ‘freedom’, and it’s about being free to be who you are, being free to love who you are and to celebrate who you are. And then, also just being free to love and celebrate other people as well.

“And of course, I also love George Michael. Growing up there was a lot of music that we didn’t particularly listen to in our household, so some of the great people, I had to appreciate later in life. Right now, I think about what George Michael means, and the impact he had not only on myself but some of the people who grew up listening to his music. I mean, he is just an icon, in every sense of the word.”

Jaida Essence Hall will be touring the UK and Ireland in February 2021. For ticket information, click here.

We’ve been adding each celebrity’s song choices to our bumper My Pride Anthems playlist each day. Take a listen below:


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